Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pesticides and ADHD -- What's next?

Once again, I repeat myself. It seems to be happening a lot lately. I guess the more "new" research comes out, the more support there is for what we always knew (some would say "suspected").

Today, we're talking about the "new" research that has linked pesticide use to the occurrence of ADHD. I quote "new" because pesticide use has long been a suspected link to disorders such as ADHD.

For the record, the list of research-backed, possible contributing factors discussed in our seminars over the past ten years includes: undetected/unrecognized "giftedness," sleep issues, emotional issues (including divorce, bullying, academic pressure/anxiety), food sensitivities, digestive disorders, dietary deficiencies, lack of breast feeding, environmental insults (including thimerosal, mercury, lead, aluminum, pesticides, household chemicals/cleaners/detergents, industrial chemicals), electromagnetic radiation (power lines, microwaves, cell phones), overuse of antibiotics, too much television, computers, and video game use, and physical/mental underdevelopment.

Quite the list, huh?

What's more, I, for one, long ago stopped thinking of ADHD as separate and apart from autism spectrum disorders, and I know some researchers also believe that ADHD is a part of the spectrum. Indeed, given the overlap of symptoms, the massive co-morbidity of ADHD and ASD, and the similar rise in the number of cases over time, how can ADHD not be part of the spectrum? And, if it is part, then it must share the same potential causes . . .

Ah, but these thoughts differ greatly from the medical theories (and I say theories, because despite what any doctor says, no one knows what's really causing the problems) that point to genetics and a clear dividing line between ADHD and ASD.

I suppose that on some level it would be nice if ADHD/ASD was purely genetic. Then, no one could be blamed, no fingers will be pointed, no one has to give up anything. If it's genetic, then it's no one's fault.

We wouldn't have to change our lifestyles; we wouldn't have to change our diets; we wouldn't have to give up our microwaves and cell phones; we wouldn't have to get more exercise; we could keep getting all our meds and vaccines; keep our houses clean and our lawns bug and weed free.

Moreover, if it's genetic, and ADHD is a separate animal unto itself, we have FDA approved medications for it's treatment (see my previous posts re: thoughts about medication). There are no such medically approved treatments for autism, however. So, if ADHD is truly a part of ASD, what would be the impact re: medications?

I'm truly afraid it isn't so. By now, pretty much everyone has stopped trying to argue that these disorders are purely genetic or that the horrific rise in diagnoses is due to "better recognition" or "changing definitions." No, even the government is looking for possible environmental causes.

But, here's the rub. At their heart, these disorders are the result of some sort of neurological underdevelopment or impairment. Something in the brain simply did not develop as it should have. Thus, by definition, anything that could ultimately adversely affect neurological development could be a cause. How is anyone to find the single, "this is it," cause?

Worse, the combination of different insults would surely produce far greater harm than the individual insults could. How can one study all the possible combinations?

No, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. All these "disorders," from speech and language delays to ADHD to ASD, are all part of the spectrum, sharing similar causes (and of course, a genetic predisposition to such harm). The resulting diagnosis is nothing more than our poor attempt to specifically label the ultimate degree and manifestation of the harm that has been caused.

Ultimately, we will realize and admit that this explosion of disorders really is some one's fault -- ours, as a society. We truly need to step back, honestly evaluate the safety and impact of all our modern conveniences, medicines, foods, and social environment, and do something about it instead of just relying on a bunch of pills.

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